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Treasurers in 2018: more engaged, satisfied, strategic

The Business of Treasury 2018 report paints a picture of corporate treasurers who are more satisfied and engaged with their roles within their organisations, are more highly skilled and have greater interaction with the board. According to the research, produced by the UK's Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT), treasurers are more likely to play a role in strategic decision-making, while their role also involves seeking increasingly diverse sources of funding.

Some of trends and shifts identified in the report include:

  • There is a continuing, palpable shift in the role of treasurer from finance specialist and information provider to collaborator in strategic decision-making. Board engagement remains high, with 92 per cent of corporate treasuries now preparing information for their boards, and 58 per cent presenting reports to the majority of all board meetings.
  • 45 per cent of the treasury respondents to this year's survey consider themselves to be either defining strategy or working with colleagues to define strategy. This compares with 36 per cent last year, suggesting a positive shift that is driven particularly by non-UK respondents.
  • Treasurers are seeking out increasingly diverse sources of funding. Between 2013 and 2018, the proportion of funding from alternative sources (for example, asset-based lending and supply chain nance) used by UK treasurers has risen from 10 per cent to 17 per cent; from 2015 to 2018, UK treasurers have also reported a rise in their use of private placements, from 5 per cent to 8 per cent of their total funding needs.
  • Recruitment and/or training of in-house teams is the number-one area of planned treasury investment in the year ahead (72 per cent), closely followed by technology and automation (66 per cent), and cybersecurity (48 per cent).
  • Treasurers currently spend most of their time, on a day-to-day basis, on capital and liquidity management (30 per cent), treasury operations and controls (25 per cent), and risk management (19 per cent) – these top three priorities have remained constant in the past five years.
  • New, more holistic measures of treasury performance are emerging. According to this year’s survey, 42 per cent of treasurers are now measured against project delivery, 25 per cent are measured against improvements in overall business profits, and 23 per cent are specifically assessed against cost savings in the business. By contrast, meeting budgets is cited by only 6 per cent of respondents as a key performance indicator (KPI).
  • Between 2014 and 2018, the net proportion of UK treasurers saying treasury is more interesting rose from 48 per cent to 63 per cent; satisfaction rose from 27 per cent to 40 per cent in the same period.

Treasury insights

And the report also sets out these eight key insights:

  1. Treasurers are more deeply embedded in their organisations than ever: 87 per cent of treasurers believe that treasury now enjoys a strategic position in their organisations.
  2. Treasury is influencing decision-making in the boardroom, particularly around issues such as capital and liquidity and risk management.
  3. While organisations still mainly rely on conventional funding, treasurers are building awareness of different sources, such as private placements and green nance.
  4. The gender balance in both operational and leadership treasury roles is moving towards parity.
  5. Around the world, recruitment and development are top of the agenda for treasury teams. ACT remains the gold-standard qualification.
  6. Capital and liquidity management remains the number-one priority for treasurers. As the role evolves, more holistic performance metrics are emerging.
  7. Cybersecurity, financial markets volatility and geopolitical uncertainty have risen sharply up the list of external concerns and risks over the past year.
  8. Treasurers are concerned about the quality of financial and business data available for strategic planning and decision-making but, critically, are leading the response to try to improve it.

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